LongIsland.com

New Mental Health Service for Veterans

Written by Chris Boyle  |  08. October 2021

In ongoing support of Suicide Prevention Month, and as military and Veterans suicides continue to rise at an alarming rate (25% in 2020), County Executive Curran was joined with local Veterans and the Veterans Services Agency (VSA) to announce a new support system for Nassau’s Veterans.  
 
Nassau’s VSA will soon be equipped with in-house social workers, specializing in assisting veterans with crisis counseling, substance abuse and other mental health related issues.  The County aims to have the services available six days a week (Monday through Saturday) at no cost to local veterans.
 
“Our Veterans Service Agency does a fantastic job supporting the brave men and women who have served our country and the acquisition of specialized crisis counselors will only expand on what they offer to our Veterans.  So many people were affected by mental health issues the past year, and our Veterans are no exception.  We are proud to soon be able to offer the specialized help that they need to get them through tough times,” said County Executive Curran.   
 
“Veterans experience unique behavioral and mental health issues and often need unique support to conquer them.  With the new crisis counselor service, we will be able to provide the help our Vets need. County Executive Curran has once again fought to do the right thing for Nassau’s Vets and we thank her for her ongoing support,” said Ralph Esposito, Director of Nassau County Veterans Service Agency.  
 
The service will be free for all Veterans but will target Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans, who are 2.5x more likely to die by suicide.  The crisis counselors will be licensed social workers specializing in veterans / military distress and will offer in person crisis intervention services, care coordination support and linkage to peer support services. These crisis counselors will be trained to support veterans combatting mental illnesses, suicidal thoughts, substance use disorder and emotional distress. The program is being developed by the Mental Health Association of Nassau County and will be supported by American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. 
 
Curran also announced a Veterans picnic, open to Veterans and their families, on October 23 from 11am to 2pm at Eisenhower Park. The event will have free food and entertainment as well as an array of support services available to Veterans in Nassau County.
 
County Executive Curran also reminded the public of existing VSA programs, such as the Vet2Vet program.  Vet2Vet is a nationally modeled program that aims to reduce Veteran Suicide and substance abuse through peer support. 
 
For information on any of the support services the VSA offers call: 516-572-6565.

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